China, the late 13th Century. Marco Polo has the position of Chief Judge under the great Kublai Khan, and is enjoying life in the east. But there is trouble brewing in court… A vassal from Rome and a Buddhist nun arrive at the same time, bringing with them portents of doom. The gates of Hell have opened and the demon Azazel has escaped. And where Azazel walks, death with certainly follow.
As the last book for Old Author October, I thought I’d try one of Paul Doherty’s standalone novels, plumping for this one at random – they’re all available as ebooks now, by the way. As with most authors, I tend to go for the standalones after the series – not sure why, I just do – but figured it was time to try one of these.
Oh, probably didn’t make it clear – the demon bit in the first paragraph? It’s NOT a metaphor.
And this book isn’t a mystery. Not in the The Railway Detective sense – this doesn’t even try to claim it’s a mystery. It’s a supernatural thriller set in 13th Century China. And there probably aren’t many other books that can claim that.
And it’s a real page turner, slightly to my surprise. Despite not having a whodunnit aspect to it, this is a rattling read, with some genuinely creepy parts. Azazel, having the power to jump from body to body, is a dangerous adversary.
ot being a mystery, this book really highlights Paul Doherty’s strengths – namely bring history to life – here a place and a time that I know nothing about at all (but now want to learn about) and being a storming storyteller.
What I am curious about, and possibly someone better read than me can let me know, is, does the overall story continue elsewhere? The backstory behind the priest and the nun is only hinted at, and I was expecting some sort of epilogue concerning them, but perhaps it is in another of the standalones?
Oh, one minor niggle – Azazel’s abilities and weakness seems to change a bit as the story goes on, but maybe that was me (or Marco Polo) misunderstanding something.
Anyway, not a mystery, but still well worth a look, especially if you enjoy Doherty’s mystery series and fancy something a little different. Recommended.